Perhaps his impatience made him careless, too eager to cross and be away. He found the place he thought would do and set Violante to the jump. The horse refused. Edmund tried again, and again Violante would not budge. Edmund gritted his teeth. He had to cross the river and get to Canterbury somehow. He wheeled the trembling horse, put him again to the jump and this time dug spurs sharply into his sides.
Violante rose then in a great stride, his strong neck outstretched and striving to obey, his fine mane flying. In the same instant, Edmund knew what he had done. He should have been content with the animal instinct of the splendid creature he rode. Below him the gorge seemed suddenly to widen, to gape for the victims. Edmund kicked free of the stirrups and bunched himself for what must come. Violante's fore hoofs struck against the further bank and plowed through the crumbling edge. Edmund went over the horse's head. . . .
It is the year 1170. The long-standing battle of wills between Archbishop Thomas Becket and King Henry II has come to a climax. The twins Edmund and Simon, one in the service of the Archbishop and the other a page of the King, witness the dramatic events leading up to the infamous cathedral slaying.
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